She watched him pull out a dinged up can from his drawer and dump the contents out onto his desk: a few crinkled bills and scraps of paper, but mostly just a shower of coins.
“My prized coin collection from seventh grade,” he muttered. “Never knew it’d end up like this.”
With a smirk, he slowly counted them up, picking through the pile for the quarters first.
“Sixteen dollars so far. Quarters really add up, you know.”
Clink, clink, clink. Continue reading
Haha. Get it? Light-headed?
So, I got a haircut recently. I asked the lady at the salon to cut off four whole inches!
I don’t know about you, but that was a pretty big deal for me. I used to be really uncomfortable with simply changing my hair part.
It took a long time for me to muster the courage to get my hair cut. I had been contemplating it since the middle of the summer. The plan was to go to summer camp, dramatically dip dye it pink like I had done once in the past, and then flaunt it for a couple weeks before dramatically chopping off a few inches. I never got around to dip-dying it; I could never bring myself to get it cut either. Thus, my already long hair grew even longer, almost to an unreasonable length. It fell all the way down my back, and I was starting to feel concerned.
Is it just an urban myth that long hair sucks nutrients that would otherwise be going to other parts of your body? The idea of that creeped me out. I was also seeking a drastic change in my life.
Hair, is something that probably grows back. I didn’t even go full bold; I just cut off enough so that it didn’t take three full hours to dry my hair. But it was enough that I can run my fingers through my hair and have it end much sooner than planned. It’s enough so that I can’t braid it to exaggerated lengths or twist it 17 times into a bun, or fishtail it into oblivion.
I honestly have no clue how haircuts function for boys. Is it just a ritual, an every-four-weeks thing? Is there any significance? Upon reading books, I feel as though younger boys with softer personalities tend to have long, curling hair. People in the army shave their heads, and nerdy boys have bowl cuts. Anyone want to comment on that?
For girls, I feel like long hair is commonly associated with femininity. But what am I talking about? My hair is still plenty long. Besides, short hair can be 100% feminine too. Too often, I feel as though short hair is seen as empowered, which I suppose I understand. But at the same time, some people just like short hair because its easier to deal with. So in some instances, it’s overkill to try to seek deeper meaning.
It’s nothing more than hair – it’s dead, I felt nothing as it was cut. But you know when something happens, and you take it more seriously than you are supposed to? When some trivial event seems to have some sort of larger significance for your life? A turning point? A pivotal point?
It seems like one of those days.
For the readers that weren’t aware, I am seventeen. I’ve got a younger sister that is going on fifteen, and I just realized that yesterday.
I’ve been away from her for almost a month; I haven’t seen or heard her voice in weeks. I’ve been out of state at summer camp, and she has also been.
Since the end of junior year, I’ve been continuously pre-occupied with the struggle of college and summer activities and what not, and I haven’t had nearly as much time as I’d like to reflect on our relationship. Sure, I saw her at dinner every night and still spent time with her during the day, but a transformation never seemed evident.
So when I logged onto Facebook yesterday and saw that she had posted a summer album filled with photos depicting her summer camp experience, I was taken back.
Who is this girl? She looks so much more sophisticated and older than I’ve ever seen her; it almost seems inappropriate to refer to her as a ‘girl’. I feel as though the term ‘young lady’ would do her more justice. Her baby-ish features have almost disappeared, replaced with a slim bone structure. It may seem like I’m stretching the truth, but the fact that my sister is going to high school in a matter of months scares me.
As inevitable as it is, it’s hard to accept, even though she spent 3 weeks on her own at some summer camp.
I continue to click through her Facebook album. She’s tan, she’s hanging out with lots of males (in contrast, she’s normally had mainly female friends in the past), she looks genuinely happy…she’s growing up.
She hasn’t grown up, she’s just in the process of a winding, confusing period of her life. I can sense that she will struggle to find herself in the midst of so many societal pressures. I know that I did, and that I still am.
The transition from middle school to high school is almost an official gesture towards the oncoming wave of puberty, change, and self-discovery that will be countered with peer pressure and drama. She most likely won’t see these changes coming; at least, I didn’t. However, now that I look back at the last three years, I see a completely different person than who I was at the beginning of ninth grade.
It seems like just yesterday I was gushing to my friend about how excited I was to finally be in high school. It’s as if I had just been discussing with my cousin the woes of her college apps, and yet today she is about to start her second year of college.
To see a drastic change in my sister’s appearance and composure is unsettling.
Note to readers: I am not North Korean. I’m not even South Korean. I’m Chinese. Cool? Okay cool.
A summary about the status quo of North Korea
North Korea is commonly believed to have the most oppressive dictatorship on the planet. If you question government legitimacy, you will be denied every basic right, and will either be sent to a prison camp or publicly executed. You are not allowed to leave the country without permission from the state.
These prison camps? They’ve been around for five times as long as Nazi camps and twice as long as Soviet camps. There are often no reasonable justifications for being sent to one of these camps; you might be sent simply because you are related to someone who committed a political crime.
The government has attempted to create an information blockade – no radios, no Internet access, no international calls. North Korea has been isolated from the rest of the world for decades.
The people are starving – the agricultural policies are sub par, the climate conditions are brutal, and food imports are limited. Malnutrition is a commonplace.
The refugee crisis
People leave North Korea for a myriad of reasons. They might be desperate for food, medicine, or money. They might hear from outsiders about the world that exists outside of North Korea – they might want to experience it for themselves. They will want to escape economic hardship, political and religious persecution, and the lack of basic, fundamental freedoms.
A scanty number of those who attempt to escape to China will actually make it. Over half of the women who succeed will become prostitutes. Those who get caught? Beatings, torture, prison camps, or execution. Take. Your. Pick.
Hope for the future?
A quote from the LiNK website that answers this question perfectly:
“North Korea is changing. Significant grassroots changes have been happening since the late 1990s, driven by the people themselves, and these developments and trends have the potential to lead, eventually, to a radically transformed and better North Korea.
However, there has not been enough focus on these changes happening at the people-level, and the issue of North Korea is not associated with dynamism or change. This is because, traditionally, the focus of the international community has been on the level of international politics and nuclear weapons.
If the world knew of the dynamism and resilience of the North Korean people in the face of extraordinary challenges, and could see that underneath this Cold War style stalemate, there is a far more interesting story of hope for change, we believe many more people would be motivated to help the North Korean people.”
What exactly is going on that we need to so badly encourage?
After a devastating famine, the North Korean people established illegal markets to obtain food. These markets are primarily female-dominated, and the regime has failed to break up these illegal activities. Simply put, “the markets are here to stay.”
There’s also more communication with the outside world. These illegal markets have triggered food imports from China, a country that is significantly more democratized and liberated than North Korea. Through these activities, the citizens realize that neighboring countries are very, very much advanced.
Even if trade with China were to stop, a leap in access to outside information has truly impacted the mentality of the North Korean people. We’ve got phones, TV’s, radios, and foreign media to help them learn about the reality of the outside world.
“All signs are that this ‘education in reality’ will only continue, and will further empower the North Korean people to push for the change they want inside the country.”
That means that the people are growing increasingly suspicious of the government. No longer are they completely oblivious and brainwashed about reality; there has been less tattletaling on people who are questioning regime legitimacy.
“Ultimately this could result in the emergence of a growing civil space for the people, who are breaking off from the state not just at an individual level but increasingly at a community level.”
And like all social movements, no matter where they originate, the driving force behind this sort of progressive change is young people. I’m talking, people in their 20s and 30s, who have not yet accepted the traditional ideologies of the past, who have not yet condoned the omniscient supremacy. These are the people who will be the make-or-break factors in the push for change.
We don’t want your pity
I don’t want you (the reader) to fall prey to compassion fatigue. I know that we see desolate pictures of North Koreans suffering very often. At first, it seems like something to pity, something that you, as an ethical human being, should do something about. But then you see pictures of starving African children, and then women in the Middle East who have been raped, as well as homeless children in upstate New York, and then you hesitate to take action. The media constantly bombards us with images that attempt to call us to action, to make a change, raise awareness, or donate money to some cause. The result of this is compassion fatigue, when we can no longer put up with all these ethical obligations. Only then do funny memes get created and the idea which originally was intended to arouse guilt and compassion starts to mock the subject of the photos, which backfires on the point of these images.
I don’t intend this to happen with this post. The point of my writing about this is not to evoke pity in you. It is to shed light on the flawed lens through which we have been observing North Korea as a regime, a country, a military power, a nation led by a “madman,” and as a group of individuals – citizens that are starting to squirm under the oppression of a tyrannical ruler. We shouldn’t just realize the difference and feel bad about their unfortunate situation. Rather, we should raise awareness. Some sort of revolution/governmental overthrow might happen, and the success of such a movement largely depends on the support that the North Korean citizens could potentially receive from the outside world. We need to know about the humans rights crisis. We need to something about it. But this post is just the first of many others, to shed light on the inequality in North Korea, and to demonstrate how we might do something about it. This first post was just to illustrate what exactly is happening right now.
(quotes are from the LiNK website, linked above)
Sometimes I listen to music – raging and energetic
The lyrics sound like they’re sprinting in whatever path they see
Sometimes when I write
I think about myself – commonly perceived as 100% committed and ready to go
I think about the kids in high school – moving so fast yet they don’t know where they’re going
And I wonder:
Do people actually stop and think
And maybe turn around and chase the polar opposite
Or is that just an urban myth?
Somedays I listen to music – nostalgic and lonely
The lyrics – they sound like they were written just for me
So sometimes when I write
I think about myself – so often left alone in a sea of my own thoughts
I think about the kids in high school – our perspectives so easily distorted, and by no means permanent
And I wonder:
Do people actually exist that actually know what they want
And what the future holds
Or is that just an urban myth?
On special days I’ll listen to music – rebellious and insightful
The lyrics are a call to action, illuminating the daily injustices
But sometimes when I write
I think about myself – a young person with the innocence and motivation to spark change
And I think about high schoolers – writing songs, directing plays
And I wonder:
Do we actually understand what we rant about
And do people ever actually form masses
And does social change ever really happen
Or is that just an urban myth?
Lacking the letter Z – Daily Prompt
New bed, am I right or am I right? ^
No, I was not actually homeless for a day. Perhaps this title was a little misleading. What I mean to depict is that I’m moving to a new house in a few days, and so the process of moving from one location to the next will essentially make me “homeless for a day” (or so).
A new house represents a new beginning. We are going to move into our new home just around New Years, so this winter will be full of clean slates and fresh starts.
A new house means no scuffs and scratches on the walls. It’s when all of your belongings are stuffed into boxes and there’s no excuse not to organize all of your possessions, because speak now or forever hold your piece; if you put it off now, organization is going to stay at the bottom of your to-do list FOREVER. It’s the perfect time to reorganize your closet or rearrange your furniture.
Typically, moving is more effective than “spring cleaning”. This is when that “out with the old, in with the new” phenomenon takes place. It’s the best time to toss your junk and buy newer junk. Toss out the old couch, and bring in that new futon!
A new house means choosing a new wall color, and getting to mentally decide what exactly the meaning is of that “soft periwinkle” shade on which you took hours to decide.
Ah, the frustration of having to both disassemble and reassemble your bed over the time-span of two days, and the irritation of fitting objects through doorways and transporting heavy items up flights of stairs.
It means that you can use the brown cardboard boxes as an excuse not to get other things done because your work was “trapped in a room whose doorway was cluttered with boxes,” as I claimed to my third grade piano teacher as the reason why I didn’t practice piano for three weeks.
A new house means not being able to instinctively feel your way to the bathroom in the dark for the first couple of nights, because you haven’t adjusted quite yet.
It means reaching for a bowl to dump cereal in and feeling a new cabinet knob, and it means passing through the garage to leave the house and feeling an unfamiliar door handle.
It might represent a downgrade or upgrade of your life, depending on the difference of the sizes of your previous home and your new abode.
It might mean adding someone new in your life, whether it be a boyfriend, or three new roommates.
Maybe you’re moving just ten minutes down the street (like me) or potentially ten states over. But it means your street won’t look the same and you won’t be able to recall which mailbox is yours for a few days. You’ll have to memorize a new address and redirect all of your magazine subscriptions to a new location.
It means that the way the rain hits the roof sounds different, so you won’t be able to sleep as easily when it rains at night because the new and unfamiliar sound will intrigue you, and you’ll stay up listening to the curious rhythm.